Mark 6:34 says; “and Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.”
In this day in which we are living, we hear a lot about taking care of the physical needs of each other, i.e. eating correctly, training correctly etc. We often forget that spiritual neglect is of a much greater consequence. If we believe this life is but a vapor in comparison to eternal life, which is still coming, we often find that the balance is wrong. People are spending more time on their physical well being than on their spiritual well being.
Jill and I were watching a documentary made by World Vision many years ago. It was in a very poor part of India. Refugees camped around a pond where the water was used for washing, drinking and for every other use. The people were half starved. I will never forget my wife saying to me when she looked into the faces of these people on the screen, “Can you see the spiritual neglect in their faces?” Their eyes were empty, there was nothing there. These people were starving, and their spiritual well being was totally malnourished.
‘No life in their eyes’
We were invited to speak at a maximum security prison in New Zealand sometime ago. These men were convicted of murder and other crimes which meant they were in prison for life. I remember counting the doors we had to go through before we entered the visitors’ room. We spent the day together inside this room which was artificially lit. It was as clean as an operating theatre, but there was no life there. There was nothing. These men were massive in their physical stature. All they could do for most of the day was to train in a gym. They would have won any body building contest. The tragedy was there was no life in their eyes; they were totally lifeless. We were able to sit down and describe how the “eagle Christian” soared up into the heights and how Jesus Christ loved them. No matter what they had done or not done, that this life is short and the life to come is forever. We spoke of how we need to get our spiritual man into peak fitness as well, so that we will have eternal life. We spoke of what it meant to confess our sins and that Jesus was able to forgive. (1 John 1:9). Slowly, as the day wore on, we started to see a flicker of light in their eyes. By the time we left, they had hope in their eyes, they had heard about the Man who forgives and makes new. They were starting to work towards their eternal home and destiny.
We need to concentrate on the spiritual wellbeing of a man, because if he doesn’t have any hope or vision for the future, he will not make it.
It is easy to get caught up with the concerns of our physical needs and forget the verse in Mark 8:36, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and he loses his soul.” Spiritual neglect is far worse than physical or bodily distress.
May God continue to inspire us, not to only take care of the physical needs of people, but more importantly, to take care of their spiritual needs as well.